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Entertainment Today: Showbiz News

By KAREN BUTLER, United Press International   |   Oct. 4, 2002 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

'LES MIZ' TO CLOSE

After 16 years, producers of "Les Misérables" say they plan to shutter the long-running Broadway musical on March 15.

Based on Victor Hugo's heart-wrenching novel about love and redemption amid a backdrop of 19th century Paris, "Les Miz" is the second-longest-running show in Broadway history. "Cats," which closed in 2000 after 18 years, was the longest-running show.

Starting Thursday and continuing through Dec. 20, ticket prices for most seats at most performances will be reduced to what they were when the show opened in 1987. Two hundred prime orchestra seats will still fetch $100, but the top price for other seats Mondays through Fridays will be $47.50, $60 on weekends.

"Swept Away" opens on Oct. 11.


PITT TO PLAY LEGENDARY SAILOR

Hollywood hunk Brad Pitt reportedly has signed on to play legendary sailor, Sinbad, in DreamWorks new animated feature film, "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas."

The film, which is expected to hit theaters next summer, also will feature the voices of Michelle Pfeiffer and Catherine Zeta-Jones. "Sinbad" marks the second time Pfeiffer has starred in an animated classic for DreamWorks. Her vocal talents were also used in the 1998 film, "Prince of Egypt."


IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM...

Guy Ritchie and Madonna chose an interesting way to promote their new film, "Swept Away."

The writer/director and his muse went on MTV Wednesday night and did a mock interview as part of their "Swept Away" movie special.

During the 30-minute program, Madonna and Ritchie grilled each other about the making of the film, then showed rare home video footage of their kids romping around the film set on the island of Sardinia.

One of the highlights of the program was when the pop diva questioned her husband about why he didn't hire Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts to star in his follow-up to "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels."

Ritchie replied good-naturedly, "Actually, I did ask her and she said no."

The British director then joked that his wife wasn't even his second choice after Roberts, noting, "However, you were available, you're cheap and you're my wife."

The highly entertaining program came amid mixed reviews of their big-screen collaboration.


MESSING RECALLS 'WILL & GRACE' DOUBTS

"Will & Grace" is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed TV sit-coms in America, but the actress who plays neurotic interior designer Grace Adler admits she had doubts in the beginning about whether the country would embrace a gay-themed show.

"I didn't know if America was ready," explains 34-year-old Debra Messing. "And 'Ellen' had just gone off the air and this had four distinct characters with a strong comic voice, but I didn't know if people would even give it a chance because of 'Ellen...' I just felt in my heart that if the critics would just watch the first two episodes that it would have a life.

"If you just watch it and be open to it, then it would have a life, but I didn't know because there was just so much attention sadly placed on Ellen (DeGeneres's) shoulder about the demise of her show, and how it was unfortunately connected to the fact that this character came out of the closet, that I thought it was going to be a tough road. But it was embraced," Messing said.

DeGeneres' namesake sit-com was canceled in 1998, shortly after she announced she was gay. "Will & Grace" debuted in 1998 and has amassed dozens of Emmy Award nominations. It currently is in its fifth season.

In addition to starring in one of TV's hottest shows, Messing also appeared in two feature films last year -- as Richard Gere's doomed wife in "The Mothman Prophecies" and as Woody Allen's ditzy, ambitious girlfriend in the hilarious comedy, "Hollywood Ending."

Asked if she enjoys the transition between film and television work, the upbeat, auburn-haired beauty insists she wouldn't have it any other way.

"I have always had the goal of changing mediums and changing genres as often as possible that's how I'm happiest," she says. "Each medium flexes another muscle and fulfills me in a completely different way."

The Brooklyn native notes, "I'd really love to do film and do the show and do plays as well."

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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